Tag Archives: postal heritage

Last Post: Remembering the First World War

The First World War was a major turning point in the history of the Post Office. To mark the year of the centenary, our First World War exhibition, Last Post, is now open at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums group.

The exhibition explores the contribution of millions of people to wartime communication and the far reaching role of thePost Office on both the battlefield and the home front.

Field Post Office

Field Post Office

An Oxo tin among other things

Demonstrating the huge variety of items that could be sent through the post in wartime, you can see on display an OXO tin posted home from the fighting front by William Cox, a former Post Office worker. He posted the OXO tin back to his brother and sister, containing a button from the tunic of a fallen soldier and a piece of shrapnel.

Cox's OXO Tin

OXO tin sent home by Cox

Battlefield will and a favourite plant

You can also view the story of Private Leonard Eldridge of the 8th London Regiment (The Post Office Rifles). Soldiers were encouraged to write battlefield wills whilst on the Front. Private Eldridge’s will is on display in the exhibition.

Eldridge writes: ‘everything I possess except the aspadastras plant of mine, I give to you. The plant, I, with my last wish, leave it, and must be given to, Miss Florence Smith… She must be treated in my absence as my lover with every respect.’

Post Office Rifles

8th London Regiment – The Post Office Rifles

Wilfred Owen

Also on display in the exhibition are two original poems written by local Shropshire-born First World War officer and poet Wilfred Owen, kindly lent to us for the exhibition by The British Library.

‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, perhaps Owen’s most iconic poem, is on display. The poem was written in October 1917 and revised a few months later, in early 1918. Owen sent the poem to his mother, Susan Owen, with the message: ‘Here is a gas poem done yesterday, (which is not private, but not final).’

Field Post Box

Soldiers waiting for post

We also fittingly have on display Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘The Letter’. The poem depicts a soldier writing a letter to his wife back home. Whilst writing the letter, the soldier is fatally hit, and a comrade finishes the letter off for him.

The poem highlights the importance of letter writing to soldiers and also the danger present at all times in the trenches. It also illustrates that the contents of letters home may not have accurately depicted the conditions of everyday life for soldiers.

 

The exhibition is open Monday to Friday, until 27th March 2015 and entrance is free.

If you are unable to visit the exhibition in person, we have launched a simultaneous online exhibition in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute.

Dominique Gardner, Exhibitions Officer

Tenth Anniversary of the Final Traveling Post Office Journeys

Image

Men stand in front of the first train coach used to sort mail on the North Eastern Railway.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the last journeys of Royal Mail’s Travelling Post Offices. First used in 1838, they revolutionised the way mail was moved across the country. From romantic images of steam engines to the brutal realities of the Great Train Robbery, TPOs were an instantly recognisable part of the national fabric until they were phased out in 2004.

To mark this anniversary, BPMA has written a guest blog for the National Railway Museum which can be found here. An online version of our Great Train Robbery exhibition, The Great Train Robbery, the aftermath and the Investigations: A Story from the Archive, marking the most infamous episode in the history of the TPO can be viewed on Google Cultural Institute’s website.

Tours of The Royal Mail Archive

by Helen Dafter, Archivist 

With over 2.5 miles of records our archive is a treasure house of social, postal and design history. BPMA staff conduct several tours each year offering a friendly and informative introduction to our collections.

A tour is conducted around the Royal Mail Archive.

A tour is conducted around the Royal Mail Archive.

Items on display vary but generally include family history resources such as Post Office staff magazines and records on staff welfare, the records of the Post Office Investigations department (who dealt with criminal activities which involved the Post Office, such as the Great Train Robbery) and Treasury Letters (correspondence between the Treasury and the Post Office).

We also take visitors behind the scenes at the archive and in to our basement repository. This part of the visit includes a discussion of the environmental conditions required for the storage of archives. We also look at the security of the archive and the types of boxes and files used to store the materials.

Finally, we invite visitors to select and examine material in our registered file series. This series includes material on a wide range of topics, as random selection of just a few of the files illustrates.

The next Archive Tour takes place on 30 April. Tours last approximately one hour and places must be booked by 5.00pm on the day before the tour. To book a place please email info@postalheritage.org.uk or telephone 020 7239 2570. We hope to see you there.

Royal Mail Archive Tours 2009
30th April, 2.00-3.00pm
30th July, EVENT CANCELLED
29th October, 2.00-3.00pm

For the first time this year – Evening Tours!
28th May, 5.45-6.45pm
10th September, 5.45-6.45pm